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The King Who Refused to Die: The Anunnaki and the Search for Immortality

The King Who Refused to Die: The Anunnaki and the Search for Immortality

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The King Who Refused to Die: The Anunnaki and the Search for Immortality

5/5 (1 rating)
327 pages
5 hours
Sep 20, 2013


Zecharia Sitchin’s secret allegorical novel that brings to life the key concepts of his bestselling book The 12th Planet

• Reimagines the Epic of Gilgamesh in the context of Sitchin’s discoveries

• Details ancient Sumerian sex rituals, the Anunnaki lineage of the gods who lived in Sumer, Anunnaki spacecraft technology, the workings of the Oracle of Anu, and Gilgamesh’s relationship with the goddess Ishtar

Written in secret so as not to incite criticism about his controversial discoveries, this novel from the late Zecharia Sitchin brings to life the key themes of his bestseller The 12th Planet. The story begins in London as Astra arrives at the British Museum’s opening for their new Gilgamesh exhibit. There she meets a handsome stranger who knows secrets about her that no stranger should know, including the source of the unusual scar on her hand. Taking her to his apartment, he reveals that she is descended from the goddess Ishtar and that he is the modern-day avatar of Gilgamesh seeking to claim the eternal life Ishtar denied him so long ago. Reenacting their sacred sex ritual from eons ago, they find themselves transported to ancient Sumer as Gilgamesh and Ishtar, where he is at last able to continue his quest for immortality.

But as Gilgamesh fulfills his sacred duties with Ishtar, something goes awry and the Oracle of Anu will not renew its blessing upon his kingship. Following the direction of his mother, the Anunnaki goddess Ninsun--the source of his partial divinity--Gilgamesh flees the city for the Anunnaki forbidden zone in search of a way to the planet Nibiru and eternal life. Travel alongside Gilgamesh and his immortal companion Enkidu as they escape the fate pronounced by the oracle, discover a Tablet of Destiny meant for Ishtar, fight off Marduk’s raiders, and foil the plot of the high priest, Gilgamesh’s half-brother who is seeking Gilgamesh’s crown for himself.

Retelling the Epic of Gilgamesh in the context of his discoveries about the Anunnaki, Zecharia Sitchin weaves a tale of ancient ceremony, accidental betrayal, gods among men, interplanetary travel, and a quest for immortality spanning millennia.
Sep 20, 2013

About the author

Zecharia Sitchin (1920-2010), an eminent Orientalist and biblical scholar, was born in Russia and grew up in Palestine, where he acquired a profound knowledge of modern and ancient Hebrew, other Semitic and European languages, the Old Testament, and the history and archaeology of the Near East. A graduate of the University of London with a degree in economic history, he worked as a journalist and editor in Israel for many years prior to undertaking his life’s work--The Earth Chronicles. One of the few scholars able to read the clay tablets and interpret ancient Sumerian and Akkadian, Sitchin based The Earth Chronicles series on the texts and pictorial evidence recorded by the ancient civilizations of the Near East. His books have been widely translated, reprinted in paperback editions, converted to Braille for the blind, and featured on radio and television programs.

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The King Who Refused to Die - Zecharia Sitchin


The King Who Refused to Die. The title of the book in your hands describes our author, and dear friend, Zecharia Sitchin. In 2010 he left this world, but his indomitable spirit lives on, through his astonishing legacy of research and the fourteen books he wrote.

Our publishing partnership with Zecharia exemplified the classic good old days when authors and editors would discuss the nuances of each word choice and how to make the reading experience as engaging as possible.

Zecharia was a consummate wordsmith and a gifted storyteller. He understood the importance of rhythm and the need to bring readers along on his explorations into the ancient past, detail by detail—never giving the ending away too soon—so they would come to the same conclusions as he did. It was important to Zecharia that readers participate in the discovery experience, for only then could they come to appreciate the true revelations contained in his work.

With Zecharia’s passing we lost an author who represented another time and place. And yet . . . with his classic flair for the dramatic and sense of mystery, he left us a gift—another work that he had never published!

The King Who Refused to Die is Zecharia’s first work to be published posthumously and is his first work of fiction. Although it is written in classic story form, it reveals the basis of Zecharia’s unique historical perspective: that There were giants upon the Earth in those days and also thereafter, too. In this retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh, he shows how the history of mankind on Earth is deeply influenced by visitations from the Anunnaki, the inhabitants of the 12th Planet, Nibiru, Those Who From Heaven to Earth Came.

Zecharia spent 35 years developing his theories of the Anunnaki influence on Earth. He traveled around the world viewing artifacts, deciphering 5,000-year-old Sumerian and Akkadian clay tablets, and creating a legacy of research that has inspired another generation to take up his work. The depth of his scholarship is awe-inspiring, but more than that, his desire to enliven his theories and bring them into popular consciousness defined the final chapter of his life.

We are honored to have a chance to continue our work with Zecharia through his latest literary creation. Yes, Zecharia Sitchin is The King Who Refused to Die.


For the special exhibit, Ma’am?

The question startled Astra. She had been to the museum many times before, but never so late in the evening. This time she stopped at the iron gates, awed by the sight of the museum’s columned facade lit by ground spotlights that bathed it in amber. The light drizzle added a haziness to the sight, an air of mystery—as though there was a secret, golden as the amber lights, hidden behind the massive columns. Astra wondered, as she stood mesmerized by the sight, whether the eerie appearance was due to the fact that so many of the museum’s artifacts had come from ancient burial sites.

For the special exhibit, Ma’am? the gatekeeper repeated his question, stepping out of the guard booth into the drizzle.

Why, yes, Astra replied.

You have to show your invitation, he said, blocking her way.

Ah yes, the invitation, Astra muttered.

The gatekeeper watched her as she fumbled in her large handbag. He could make out, under the khaki rain hat, a squarish chin and a small, full-lipped mouth. Her khaki raincoat was belted tightly around her waist, revealing a well-shaped body.

Here it is, Astra said as she pulled the white card out of the envelope in which it had been mailed to her.

Go on, the gatekeeper said without even examining the card. You’re rather late. If you don’t hurry, the wine and tidbits will be all gone.

Astra was still clutching the invitation in her hand as she began to cross the courtyard, too absorbed in thoughts to remember to put it back in her handbag. By now she knew the words of the invitation by heart—The Trustees of the British Museum cordially invite you to attend the opening of the Special Gilgamesh Exhibit, it read, giving the date and time. But even now, as she was mounting the twelve wide stairs leading to the museum’s front doors, Astra could not figure out why she had been invited, or who it was that knew her name and address.

She was still thinking how odd it all was when one of the guards stopped her to search her handbag, and only then did she remember to put back the invitation. Satisfied that she had neither guns nor explosives, he directed her to the west wing. She checked her hat and coat, and a moment later joined the crowd.

For the occasion, the museum’s coffee shop had been converted into a reception hall, where free drinks and small triangular sandwiches were being served. The way to the reception led through corridor-like galleries lined with Greek statues and up a flight of stairs, from which the crowd was already spilling out into the exhibition galleries. As Astra tried to make her way to the bar, she found herself stuck amidst the throng. She was pushed and shoved on all sides but finally managed to maneuver herself nearer to the wall, where the crush of people was not as great.

From that vantage point she looked about her. It was now long past the usual closing time, and the everyday crowds of sightseers had given way to a totally different assemblage of people. Though only a few men wore black tie and even fewer women wore long gowns, the crowd looked elegant, sophisticated. As she overheard fleeting conversations, Astra felt completely out of place. Did she just imagine it, or were they in fact staring at her, dressed as she was in her old airline hostess uniform stripped of its insignia, and now somewhat tight on her? Did they know that she really did not belong here, that her being here was some error or, even worse, a bad joke?

Her gaze caught the eye of a tall, slim young man, up the stairs. He raised his glass and smiled at Astra and began to make his way toward her through the crowd, his eyes fixed on her.

Hello there, he said as he reached her. I’ve watched you marooned on an arid island amidst a sea of people, not a drink in your hand, and have come to the rescue. . . . Are you alone here?

Alone and puzzled, Astra said. Not only don’t I have a drink, I don’t even know how I got here.

You don’t know how you got here? he repeated jovially. Knocked unconscious and carried in wrapped in a rolled-up magic carpet, that’s how!

She laughed. No, I mean I have no idea why I was invited or who invited me. Do you know? She looked straight at him as she asked the question.

Who cares? he said, as long as you’re here and I’m getting to know you. I am your knight to the rescue come, Henry by name. And what is thy name, my lady?


How wonderful, how celestial. . . . Shall I get you a drink, my charming lady? He bent toward her as he spoke, his face coming close to hers.

She jerked her head backward to avoid his mouth touching hers.

Why, yes, Henry, I’d love to have a drink, right away, please.

Don’t move, he told her. I’ll be back in a whiff!

He turned and began to push his way toward the stairs leading to the coffee shop. No sooner had he done so than Astra made her way through the crowd in the opposite direction.

The crowd of invitees was now backed up all the way through the Greek gallery and the gallery leading to it from the entrance. To relieve the pressure and the risk of damage to the statues, attendants were removing the rope barriers that blocked the way into the museum’s Assyrian section. There was a surge of people into the newly opened area, and Astra made her way there.

The entrance to this section was flanked by life-size stone statues of guardian deities, their divine status revealed by the horned headdresses they wore. They had been placed at the entrance to greet the modern visitors, just as they had greeted worshippers in ancient Assyria. Passing between them into the section of the museum where she had been many times before, Astra’s unease lessened. Most of the people who were surging in with her turned to the left, lured by the sight of the pair of gigantic sculptures of mythological creatures—bulls with the wings of an eagle and the humanlike head of a protective deity—that had once guarded the throne of an Assyrian king. Astra veered to the right, toward a row of Assyrian stelas from the first millennium BCE—stone columns depicting the king protected by the celestial emblems of the great gods of Assyria. These five symbols were repeated on each stela, and a plaque on the section’s wall offered the visitor an explanation.

Uttering the words to herself, Astra read out the explanation: ‘The horned headdress represented Anu, the god of the Heavens. The Winged Disc was the celestial emblem of his son, the god Ashur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon. The crescent was the emblem of Sin, the moon god. The forked thunderbolt was the symbol of Adad. The eight-pointed star represented Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, whom the Romans called Venus.’

Having read the explanation, Astra moved from stela to stela, studying the emblems on each. She stopped at the stela of the king Ashurbanipal, whose hand was raised toward the celestial emblems, his index finger pointing to the symbol of Ishtar. Ignoring the people around her, Astra put out her hand to touch the symbol, and her pulse quickened as her fingers caressed the ancient engraving. She focused her gaze on the king’s mouth, touched the stone lips, and whispered, Ancient lips, utter again your immortal message!

She closed her eyes, and in spite of the din around her, could clearly hear the whispered words: Look, Astra, look at your destiny star . . .

Her hand flinched and she opened her eyes. She turned abruptly around. Henry was standing there right behind her, a drink for her in his hand. He was smiling.

Have you just spoken to me? she asked.

The sweet words have not yet crossed my lips, he said. I was going to say, though, why caress the frozen lips when there are living ones to press against yours?

Words were uttered to me, Astra said. It may sound odd, but I’ve heard words coming from this monument once before.

How very interesting, Henry said. Do go on. He handed her the glass.

These emblems somehow touch a chord in me, Astra continued as she turned to look at them again. I come to look at them whenever I can, after work. . . . They seem to be holding a secret, a hidden message.

And the stone then whispers the message to you, is that it?

I’m not crazy, I did hear spoken words—now and once before, Astra replied, and raised her glass to toast the monument.

She turned back. Henry was now a few feet away from her, having been pushed away by the surging crowd.

You must tell me about your cult, he shouted to her, raising his glass.

Astra ignored his words and let the crowd put more distance between them. Everybody seemed to now be in this part of the museum. A man who had stepped up to a small platform placed between the ancient winged bulls was trying to hush the crowd, and after several calls to order, he began the proceedings.

Ladies and gentlemen, he said in a firm voice, my name is James Higgins, and I am the museum’s curator of western Asia antiquities. It is my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the trustees of the British Museum to this opening of the Special Gilgamesh Exhibit.

He paused for effect and then continued. "The Special Gilgamesh Exhibit is being held to celebrate a kind of centennial. Among the great archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia in the nineteenth century was the vast library of inscribed clay tablets of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, in Nineveh. The tablets, mostly damaged or broken into fragments, were brought to the British Museum. Here, in the basement of this very building, it was the job of George Smith to sort out, match, and categorize the tens of thousands of pieces of inscribed clay that arrived in wooden boxes. One day his eye caught a fragment that seemed to relate a story of a great flood, and he realized that he had come upon a Mesopotamian version of the biblical story of the Deluge!

"With understandable excitement, the museum trustees sent George Smith to the archaeological site in Mesopotamia to search for additional fragments. Luck was on his side, for he found enough of them to be able to reconstruct the original text and publish it, in 1876, as The Chaldean Account of the Flood."

There were murmurs of concurrence from the crowd, and the curator continued, "But as Smith himself had concluded, and as additional finds have by now conclusively established, the tale that was discovered in the library of Ashurbanipal dealt only partly with the subject of the Deluge. It was a long tale, written on twelve tablets. Its original ancient title, drawn from its opening line, was He Who Saw Everything. We now refer to it as the Epic of Gilgamesh, for it tells the story of a king by that name who was restless and adventurous, challenging both men and gods. Claiming to be partly divine, he deemed himself entitled to immortality. It was in search of such an escape from the fate of all mortals that he had gone to the magical Landing Place of the Gods, and then to the secret domain called the Land of Living. There he found an ancestor from long ago who was still alive. The latter turned out to be the hero of the Deluge, the one called Noah in the Bible. It was he who then proceeded to tell Gilgamesh the tale of the unforgettable calamity of the Great Flood.

"It was thus a century ago that the biblical tales of Genesis were linked to the lore of ancient Assyria and Babylon. In that past century we have also come to know that all those writings stem from an earlier common source, the original written records of the Sumerians—that mysterious people who had created the first known civilization, in southern Mesopotamia.

Not only have these ancient Assyrian and Babylonian tales confirmed that Gilgamesh was a historical figure, other epic tales, as well as actual lists of kings that have come down to us, confirm it also. Gilgamesh was the fifth ruler of the Sumerian city Uruk, the biblical Erech. He reigned nearly five thousand years ago. His father was a High Priest. His mother was a goddess named Ninsun, making Gilgamesh two-thirds divine. Until the archaeologist’s spade uncovered the city—its streets, houses, wharfs, and temples, including the shrines to Ninsun—Erech was just the name of an unknown, seemingly nebulous mythological place mentioned in the Bible. But if the Bible was correct about Erech and all the other cities mentioned in it, and if it was correct about the various Assyrian and Babylonian rulers it speaks of, could it be that the other tales—of a deluge and of a Noah, of a Tower of Babel, and of a Garden of Eden—were also factual, a written record of the long ago?

The curator paused. I seem to be getting carried away, he said, gesturing apologetically. "So let me stop here. Whatever the implications of the discoveries of the past century and those more recent, there is no doubt that a turning point in our knowledge and understanding was reached with the publication of The Chaldean Account of the Flood. It is to commemorate the centenary of that event that the museum has put together this special exhibit. It brings together finds and artifacts now located in several museums in various countries, but the core are the tablets that George Smith pieced together and which have not been on exhibit for public viewing for quite a long time."

The curator signaled with his hand, and attendants removed the ropes that held the crowd back from the special section. I invite you to inaugurate the Special Gilgamesh Exhibit, he announced in a raised, excited voice, hoping to be heard above the din of the crowd. But no one really awaited his final words, for no sooner had the ropes been removed than the crowd surged forward on its own.

Astra, who had stayed in the back when the curator began to speak, now had to wait her turn to go into the special exhibit area. There, in the center, protected by a Plexiglas cubicle, were the original fragments pieced together by George Smith. Under another Plexiglas hood, cylinder seals pertaining to the epic tale of Gilgamesh were displayed. These were small cylinders cut from semiprecious stones on which scenes from the tale were engraved in reverse, so that when the cylinder was rolled on wet clay the intended depiction was impressed. There were seals not only from Mesopotamia but from all over the ancient world, dating to the second and first millennia BCE. The most frequent scene shown on the seals was that of Gilgamesh wrestling the lions. Others depicted him in his royal garb, and there were also depictions of his comrade Enkidu, mostly showing him with the animals of the wild among which he had grown up.

He who saw everything,

who went to the Land;

Who all things experienced,

considered all . . .

Secret things he has seen,

what is hidden from Man he found out;

He even brought tidings

of the time before the Deluge.

He also took the distant journey

wearisome and under difficulties.

He returned, and upon a stone column

all his toil’s tale he engraved.

Astra was still bending down to read the rest of the text when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around. It was Henry.

Remember me? he said, the knight without armor? I am afraid I said something rash when last seen. I am sorry.

Never mind, Astra replied. I really came here for the exhibit.

Gilgamesh is more interesting, then, though long dead, in spite of all his searches for immortality, Henry said. Did you know that to keep himself young he roamed the streets of Erech at night, seeking out wedding celebrations? He then challenged the bridegroom to a wrestling match, which he always won. Then he claimed for himself as a prize the right to be the first to sleep with the virgin bride.

He did? Astra said. And what if there had been more than one wedding that night? She chuckled.

It says here, Henry said, pointing to the text of the first tablet, that Enkidu, a sort of artificial man created by the god Enki, made love to a harlot for six days and seven nights without taking time out. Gilgamesh, equally virile, survived an annual rite of a Sacred Marriage with the goddess Inanna during which he had to perform fifty times in one night. . . . Does this answer your question?

Astra now took a closer look at Henry. He was younger than she was, maybe thirty. He had a freckled face and light brown hair and was far from being good-looking. But his smile had an audacity about it, fresh and inviting . . .

You seem to know a lot, she said. Are you a teacher or something?

Indeed I am. A lecturer on Assyriology. And you?

A has-been, Astra replied with a shrug. A damn good cabin attendant, now running the cabin crews’ briefing room, having become more mature and plump.

Curvy, I would rather say, Henry said, tilting his head as though to get a look at her from another angle. Not unlike Inanna, better known as Ishtar, as a matter of fact. She used to flaunt her naked beauty, so most depictions of her show her naked or wearing a see-through garment.

He took Astra’s hand and drew her away from the display of tablets to the showcase with the seal cylinders. Here, he said, pointing at a group of seals, you can see some of those depictions.

Why did she do that?

"She was the goddess of love. I suppose she had to live up to her reputation. . . . The sixth tablet of the Epic of Gilgamesh relates how, seeing him naked, Inanna invited him to make love to her. Will history repeat itself, Astra?" He looked into her eyes, his hold on her hand tightening.

Did Gilgamesh accept the invitation?

"Well . . . as the ancient tale goes, he did not. He turned her down, citing the instances when she had killed off her human lovers. But I would have taken the chance!"

It’s an interesting offer: to reenact an encounter from millennia ago and see if it turns out differently, Astra said, pulling her hand from his. But I still want to find out how I happen to be here. Do you know?

"I do," a voice beside her said. Astra turned toward the speaker. He was a tall, broad-shouldered man in his fifties, his thick hair graying at the temples. His eyes were blue-gray, and he was staring at her so intensely that she could not move her gaze to see his other features.

You? But why? Astra blurted out.

It’s rather private, the stranger replied. He held out his hand. Would you come with me, please? He was still staring into her eyes.

Just a minute, Henry said. This young lady is with me!

Nonsense, the stranger said. I’ve watched you trying to pick her up, even mocking her when she felt a bond with the ancient monuments. . . . So, please don’t mind my borrowing Miss Kouri for a while.

Without giving either one of them a chance to object further, he took Astra by the arm and led her away through the jostling crowd.

They were outside the special exhibit area when Astra stopped short, pulling her arm away from his hold. You know my name? she said.

Yes. You are Miss Astra Kouri, aren’t you?

Astra could feel blood surge to her face. Her heart began to pound. How?

The stranger smiled. I am pleased you could accept the invitation, he told her.

"Who are you?"

My friends call me Eli, but that is short for my family name, Helios. Adam Helios, that is my full name. . . . Now you have your answer, don’t you?

Astra nodded.

Come with me, then. He took her by the arm again and led her toward the entrance to the Assyrian exhibit, stopping in front of the stela of Ashurbanipal.

Look, Astra, look at your destiny star, he whispered.

You! Astra cried out. ‘‘What do you want of me?"

Without shifting his gaze from hers, he took her hand and slid his fingers along its side to where Astra had a barely noticeable, lumpy scar. Then he took her free hand and slid her fingers along his hand’s side, until Astra could feel a similar lumpy scar on his hand.

Oh my God! she said.

Yes, I too had a sixth finger that was surgically removed when I was a child, he told her. Isn’t that what was done to you, too?

It’s incredible, Astra said. Totally confusing. . . . How did you know that? How did you know my name?

Do you believe in destiny, Astra? he whispered, putting his hands around her waist. Do you believe that stars can beckon, that stones can speak?

Astra resisted his grasp. How much do you know about me, for heaven’s sake?

He let go of her waist. More than you yourself ever knew, he said. Come with me and I will tell you all.

He was no longer looking at her, but at the celestial symbols on the monument.

I really don’t think . . . Astra began to say, but stopped as his hand reached out again, and he pressed his lumpy scar against hers.

We are one of a kind, he said. Uniquely endowed with a sixth finger. . . . Can’t you hear our destiny calling? His eyes were again gazing straight into hers, demanding and commanding. Astra wanted to say something, but couldn’t.

Come, he said, and took her by the arm. Astra went along.

I live nearby, Eli added as they reached the stairs leading out of the museum. They crossed the courtyard and then Great Russell Street, which led into Museum Street, a narrow street flanked by old buildings that once upon a time were homes of the rich but now housed publishers’ offices and bookstores specializing in Orientalia and the occult. They walked silently, Eli still holding Astra’s arm.

They turned into an even narrower street, then into an alley. Astra figured they were somewhere in the back of the buildings they had passed minutes earlier, but she couldn’t be sure. There were no street lights in the alley; in the darkness, Eli stopped in front of what turned out to be a door. Deftly he unlocked it, for the first time letting go of Astra’s arm. A dim bluish light went on inside as he opened the door, and a narrow stairway steeply leading up came into view.

Please, he said.

As soon as Astra was inside he locked the door behind them. I’ll lead the way, he continued, as he began to climb the stairs.

There were landings at half-floor levels,

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